ca 1930

Zinnias is a color linoleum cut created about 1930 by American artist Frances Gearhart (1869-1958). It is pencil signed and titled and was printed by the artist in an edition of at least 50 on a soft, ivory wove Japanese paper. The image measures 10-3/4 x 8-5/8 inches.

Zinnas is a beautiful example of Gearhart's painterly approach to inking her blocks. Here she used a linoleum key-block, printed with blue oil-based ink, to create most of the linear elements for this still life and then hand brushed colors on the tone block. As a result of this direct approach, each impression varies in color to some degree. The flower heads vibrate with color as if there we just brought in from her garden.

Frances Hammell Gearhart, painter, printmaker, and teacher, was born in Sagetown, Illinois in 1869 but raised in Pasadena, California. She joined her sisters, May and Edna, in the field of education, teaching English History in the Los Angeles School System. She spent summers in the east, studying art with Charles H. Woodbury and Henry R. Poore.

As a woodblock printmaker, Gearhart is considered to be self-taught. She created her first print in 1918 and joined the Print Makers Society of California in 1919. She opened her Pasadena studio for use by the society, organized shows, and co-chaired the selection committee. In 1920, she produced a color linocut that was the first gift print of the society.

Gearhart was a member of the Prairie Print Makers and the American Federation of Arts. Her work was included in survey exhibitions of American color woodcut at the Brooklyn Museum and the American Institute of Graphic Arts. She is represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Library of Congress, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Worcester Art Museum.

In 2009, the Pasadena Museum of California Art published the catalog Behold the Day: The Color Block Prints of Frances Gearhart for an exhibition of Gearhart’s work. Susan Futterman, Nancy E. Green and Victoria Dailey wrote essays and the catalog was edited by Futterman. The catalog is richly illustrated and a must for the library of print collectors.

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